Dedicated to Sri Sarada Devi

A Place where devotees gather to share inspiration.

"Holy Mother" painted by Swami Tadatmananda

Used courtesy of the Vedanta Society of Southern California

Dedicated to Sri Sarada Devi
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Story time: Uprightness

Mullah Nasruddin found a diamond by the roadside, but, according to law, finders become keepers only if they first announced their find in the centre of the marketplace on three separate occasions. Now, Nasruddin was too religious-minded to disregard the law and too greedy to run the risk of parting with his find. So on three consecutive nights when he was sure that everyone was fast asleep he went to the centre of the marketplace and there announced in a soft voice, ‘I have found a diamond on the road that leads to the town. Anyone knowing who the owner is should contact me at once.’ No one was the wiser for the mullah’s words, of course, except for one man who happened to be standing at his window on the third night and heard the mullah mumble something. When he attempted to find out what it was, Nasruddin replied, ‘I am in no way obliged to tell you. But this much I shall say: Being a religious man, I went out there at night to pronounce certain words in fulfilment of the law.’

That was observing religious injunctions to the letter, holding fast at the same time to one’s selfish interests. Any compromise we make in principles leaves its mark on our character. All our thoughts and actions leave their subtle impressions (samskaras) in our mind, impelling us to repeat the thoughts or actions. Perfect alignment in thought, word, and deed constitute true simplicity and leads to purity of the mind. Sri Ramakrishna considered this quality essential in spiritual life.

Location: Wilmslow, Cheshire, U.K.

Re: Story time: Uprightness

Good to have you among us, Vriju! We have missed storytime.

This story illustrates how adherence to an injuction, law, or principle may be selfishly stretched to rather far extremes.

But what about when the situation when the principle or law for the sake of others, for the 'good cause', for survival, civil disobedix...? A swami once advised me that sometimes we do need to act on a higher principle, but in chosing to do this, we should be prepared to accept the consequences of breaking the law if caught.

Another swami was quoted as saying we should tell the truth, but not a harsh truth. Again, I think motive is the key. I don't think I the intent was tell us never to say anything bad or negative; but rather not to willfully or unthinking use "truth"as an excuse for hurting others.

Location: San Diego, California, USA

Re: Re: Story time: Uprightness

Jayanti, you have raised two very pertinent points:
(1) Civil disobedience or what Gandhiji called "Sattyagraha" is a non-violent and peaceful disobedience of the man made laws when they are believed to be unjust. Here one is prepared to take the consequences without retaliation or resentment.
(2) Yes, Holy Mother also asked devotees not to hurt others even by a harsh word. "One must not speak unpleasant truths unnecessarily. By indulging in rude words one's nature becomes rude. One loses sensitivity without control over one's words."

In the story, however, Mullah Nasrudddin did not follow the true 'spirit' or the 'purpose' of the law. Had he announced loudly his 'find' in the market place, when there were people around, on three separate occassions (as the true spirit of the law demanded) then most probably the news would have got to the rightful owner of the diamond. Since his intention was to keep the diamond for himself he did what he did thereby deceiving himself in believing that he obeyed the law. Here the law is just -- it is saying " Make every effort to find the owner"

Location: Wilmslow, Cheshire, U.K.

Re: Story time: Uprightness

Yes, we are thinking along the same lines. My observation was that one's intent is a key factor; sometimes more so than "obeying"

Mullah Nasruddin was motivated by SELFISHNESS.

In the other examples, the person is motivated by self-less-ness and higher ideals.

Location: San Diego, California, USA